by Dr. Ashley Newton, PT, DPT
The winter holidays are a special time of year for many. They are filled with family get-togethers, delicious treats, and heart-warming traditions. For as sweet and jolly as this time of year can be, it can also be a sneaky pelvic floor saboteur! Watch out for the following things around the holidays so you can be prepared to keep your pelvic floor happy:
Bladder Irritants: Different foods and drinks can irritate the bladder lining. Two of the most common bladder irritants are caffeine and alcohol. As we tend to migrate inside in the winter months and the holidays roll around, we become more inclined to reach for a hot cup of coffee or a drink with friends from out of town. Instead of coffee, it can be helpful to opt for a cup of non-caffeinated tea or cider so as to not wreak havoc on your bladder. Bladder irritants can increase the urgency to urinate. We want to spend the holidays with friends and family, not constantly running to the bathroom!
Foods and Travel that Constipate: It is no doubt that when we travel, we eat and drink things outside the norm of our day-to-day eating habits. We also tend to be on planes, trains, and in automobiles and spend our days on holiday outings and family visits. Unfortunately, travel constipation is a real thing! We overall tend to drink less water and eat foods with which our body is unfamiliar! Make sure you hydrate, hydrate, hydrate this holiday season and ensure that, even when you travel, you get some fruits and vegetables in your diet to keep the colon happy!
Nervous System Dysregulation: We all know that as much as the holidays are fun, they can often be filled with stress. Deadlines approach, holiday lists abound, and we visit family and often have dreaded conversations and sometimes debates. The nervous system can get fried around the holidays and we can wind up holding tension in our pelvic floor and abdomen. Remember that the pelvic floor and abdomen are intimately connected with our nervous system and when the body senses stress, these can be areas that tighten in response. This tightness has the potential to lead to pain and dysfunction in the core and pelvic floor. So, how do you combat the stress that will inevitably occur??
- Try deep breathing: Stimulate the rest and relax part of your nervous system by slowly inhaling for 2 seconds and exhaling for 4 seconds.
- Dance it out! Get your heart pumping and move your body!
- Self-massage: Give your body and skin some TLC in this cold weather!
- Stand firm in your boundaries: This is the hardest one, but know when you need a break to care for yourself. Be kind and firm in what you need, you deserve it!
- Splash cold water on your face: Simple but this helps to stimulate the vagus nerve and calm the nervous system!
At Activcore Princeton’s Pelvic Health Center, the staff and I are hosting a FREE holiday event, “Pelvic Floor Holiday De-Stress and Reset”. We will have food and a raffle, be presenting tips for holiday wellness, and doing a small exercise demo. If you are in the Princeton area, I would love to see you there! The event is Thursday, December 15th, 6:30-8pm. RSVP at the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you all stay happy and healthy this holiday season!